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Editor’s note

My West — the West of my youth — was one of blue-ribbon biscuits baked for the county fair; gathering eggs, still warm, from under the cushion of a hen who would peck you ferociously on the back of the hand if you didn’t move fast enough; stalking through a silent, frosted autumn forest with my dad during black powder season; waking up to find the neighbor’s prize bull looking in our picture window, and later having to scrub the thick track of bull slobber off the glass with vinegar and newspaper. There was ample time for running wild in the nearby Uncompahgre River bottom land, tossing rotten duck eggs from the hayloft, wading irrigation ditches and baking mudpies in the mailbox.

Today, my West includes far fewer farmers, ranchers, hunters and open land. There are more Democrats and many more people, houses and cars. The sky is still just as big as I remember, though, and there’s still plenty of the frontier pluck I knew from the roughhewn pioneers in my hometown.

One of the things I love most about DU is its Western legacy. Its founders are the same pioneers who founded our state and namesake city; our histories are bound together. When I began coming across story after story of DU alumni who embody the same Western spirit that shaped my childhood, I sensed there was a larger story to tell. This issue is that story — a story of Western characters and character, freedom of spirit and new twists on old traditions.

I hope you enjoy it.

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